“A Familiar Portrait of Labor and Love” will be on exhibit at Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery at Upper Iowa University’s (UIU) Fayette Campus Thursday, October 3-Friday, November 1. Coming from the desire to connect intergenerational intersections of race and gender, and speak to the complexities of a family’s multiracial relationships, the grandmothers of featured artist Leslie Barlow are the centerpiece of the oil painting series.
“After meeting Leslie in her Minneapolis (Minnesota) studio during the city’s annual Art Attack art walk, I invited her to our Fayette Campus to share her work,” UIU assistant professor of art Laura Gleissner said. “Anyone who talks with Leslie during her closing reception in November will quickly discover that her message is as beautiful as her paintings.”
Barlow oftentimes displays oil paintings that depicts her family, friends, people in her community, and her personal experiences. Her oil paintings share stories through figural relationships that explore the politics of representation, identity, otherness and racial constructs. A Familiar Portrait of Labor and Love focuses on Barlow’s maternal Danish immigrant grandmother and paternal African American grandmother.
“Recurring themes that reveal themselves are the matriarch, the importance of passing down stories, the politics of representation, racial identity development, “otherness”, and, at its core, a granddaughter’s relationship to her grandmothers,” Barlow said. “This new series of paintings feels like I’m working at the edge of myself – painting into the future what knowledge I wish I had in the past, barely able to keep up with the churning of my mind and the layers of stories I increasingly hold.”
A resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Barlow teaches courses at the University of Minnesota, Metro State University, and Juxtaposition Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2019, she was awarded both the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and the 20/20 Springboard Fellowship by her home state of Minnesota.
Barlow’s studio is located in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Her work can be viewed at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where in 2016 she was commissioned by the Minnesota Vikings football team to create six portrait paintings of iconic Vikings players. Maintaining a vigorous studio practice, Barlow has also participated in artist residencies at The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and as the artist-in-residence at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and at the Marcy Open School in Minneapolis.
Barlow will lead an artist talk at noon, followed by a gallery closing reception Friday, November 1. Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery is located in Edgar Fine Arts Hall at Upper Iowa University’s Fayette Campus. The gallery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.